Weatherman Al Kaprielian's Cape Cod Ties
By: CHRISTOPHER KAZARIAN, February 4, 2014
Politics and sports aside, the one topic New Englanders are probably most passionate about is the weather.
They generally love to complain about the cold, worry about the next hurricane or blizzard, delight in the warm weather and grumble about the humidity.
Perhaps for this reason meteorologists are celebrated figures in this section of the country; they deliver the part of the news people truly care about.
And Falmouth, away from the limelight, is a town one of the more celebrated weathermen in the region routinely visits, occasionally gathering long stares from people who know the face, but are unsure of exactly where they know him from.
His name is Al Kaprielian, the older brother of Kenneth A. Kaprielian, owner of the Anchor Ale House on Davis Straits. The pair have been seen there in past years as Al Kaprielian has been known to help his brother on occasion when needed, as any family member would do.
When visiting Falmouth, Al Kaprielian often flies under the radar and keeps a relatively low profile, much different from his larger-than-life personality on air, in which his antics have led him to become a beloved figure in New England, so much so that one YouTube clip of him, having amassed over 91,000 views, uses the term “Cult Hero” following his name.
Underneath that video are a slew of comments, the first of which reads, in part, “I love this guy! Legend? Absolutely!”
Although most are positive, some are less supportive of his on-camera demeanor in which his voice rises and lowers depending on which words he is saying, reaching a pitch whenever he introduces himself or utters the phrase “high pressure,” a trademark Kaprielian-ism for which he has become known because of the way he says the words: ”high pressha.”
His quirkiness does not end there as a YouTube video celebrating his 25th anniversary as a weatherman in 2008 shows clips of him dancing awkwardly, waving his arms wildly, muttering “Woop, Woop, Woop” in homage to Curly from “The Three Stooges,” and playfully reacting to his background graphics, whether it be dodging fake lightning or rain, during his TV forecasts.
A 2009 article in The Phoenix acknowledges his lack of polish and occasional on-camera gaffes, but notes that this has made him wildly popular in the region since first becoming a weatherman in 1983. “And in that quarter century, he’s amassed a passionate and gleefully irreverent fan base for which most mere weathermen could only dream,” writes author Mike Miliard.
Lifelong Love of Weather
Al Kaprielian found himself in such a position thanks to a lifelong passion with the weather that started as a child in Natick. “I used to look up in the sky,” he said in a recent interview. “I would get excited about snowstorms and hurricanes and thunderstorms.”
He was so enamored with the daily changes in climate that makes New England unique that his peers often tapped him for his weather expertise. By the 6th grade he started each morning giving the day’s forecast to his homeroom class, something he continued when he was a student at Natick High School.
After graduating high school in 1979 he went to Lyndon State College in Vermont, where he received his bachelor’s degree in meteorology, learning how to read a weather map and how to forecast the weather. In his final semester he began working in front of the camera, enjoying the opportunity to let his personality shine.
From there he amassed enough footage to compile a reel, which he sent to several stations throughout the region. In July 1983 he interviewed with WNDS in Derry, New Hampshire, which hired him that same day.
People who watch me know I love this job.
That moment was when Kenneth Kaprielian realized his younger brother’s flirtation with the weather was a serious endeavor. “Did I ever think he’d get on TV? Nah,” he said. “I do remember him talking about the snow as a kid: is it wet snow or dry snow? He always had a fascination with the weather and was the one person who knew what he wanted to do since the time he was a little kid, and most importantly that’s how he got that job.
I guess I knew he was going to be a weatherman, but it never hit me until he called me when I was working at the Kreme N’ Kone [in Dennis] the day he got the job,” Kenneth Kaprielian said. “I stopped myself in my tracks. I couldn’t believe he pulled it off.”
He recalled regular visits to the Derry station to watch his brother in action, reporting the news during its 6 PM and 10 PM newscasts.
His brother’s eccentric style, he said, quickly led him to develop a following. “He became well liked, though some people thought he was wacky,” he said, laughing.
Underlying his larger-than-life personality is a passion for the weather and serving the public. “I do this because I am sincere about the weather,” Al Kaprielian said. “The job of a TV meteorologist is, number one, we save lives. Property is number two because you can rebuild a home, but you can’t replace a person, though you hate to see a house demolished by a tornado.”
He balances this with a desire to entertain the audience. “The enthusiasm I portray in my voice, the high pressure, it captures the viewer,” he said. “That is what they wanted at the station and basically why they hired me: for my style. People who watch me know I love this job.”
Success In His Field
His enthusiasm has translated into both local acclaim and longevity. In 2004 he was awarded best weather forecaster in the Nashua Telegraph’s Reader’s Choice Awards and has been voted best media personality and best weatherperson in New Hampshire Magazine’s The Very Best of New Hampshire Reader Choice Awards.
Over the years the station has used his fame to create everything from Christmas ornaments to T-shirts to a bobblehead featuring his mug. He regularly poses for pictures and signs autographs in and around his hometown of Merrimack.
He has used his acclaim to generate goodwill, helping to raise funds for dozens of New Hampshire charities and regularly welcomes local school groups to educate children on what a meteorologist does and perhaps to one day inspire others to follow in his footsteps. “I think one of the highlights of my career has been helping the community and helping charities raise money,” he said. “Being a broadcast meteorologist, you are doing more than just the weather.”
He celebrated his 25th straight year delivering the weather to New Englanders in 2008, four years after WNDS had been purchased by Fox affiliate WMVY. But by December 2009, he found himself out of a job when he was let go with several other colleagues, at which time he brought his forecasts to Manchester Public Television, the Nashua Telegraph and AM radio in Lowell.
After a change in ownership at the Derry station Al Kaprielian returned to television in August 2012, providing hourly weather updates during the week from roughly 2 to 9 PM on WBIN-TV, which covers Southern New Hampshire, Boston, Worcester and Cape Cod. His forecasts can also be seen on the station’s website www.wbintv.com.
Aside from him the station currently has no newscast, relying on Al Kaprielian to inform and entertain the public. “He is pretty funny,” said WBIN’s general manager Gerry McGavick. “He is just an animated guy and does the weather in a different fashion. He gets very excited about it.”
That enthusiasm, he Mr. McGavick said, is genuine, noting that Al Kaprielian will walk around the building talking to people about the weather all day long. “It is unbelievable,” he said with a laugh. “It is funny, the bigger the storm the more excited he gets.”
While it is easy to miss one of his forecasts because they are short and scheduled at odd times like 1:50 PM, 2:50 PM and 5:50 PM there is a possibility he could be part of a more regular, stable newscast in the future.
Until then Al Kaprielian will be one of the few local news personalities at WBIN, to the delight of audiences. “We have a lot of people call the station and ask him to come speak,” Mr. McGavick said. “And on our Facebook page 95 percent of the feedback on him is always positive. He is just a very entertaining guy on the air and he does it in an old-school style that people really relate to.”